Thursday, February 21, 2008

Economic Research on Obesity

A new publication highlighting MTSU research, Focus on Excellence, includes an article (page 9 of pdf) on the work of Dr. Charles Baum:

  • Baum ... recently completed a two-year study, funded by the USDA, that links the Federal Food Stamp Program to obesity.... One theory is that the Food Stamp Program ... provides food with no corresponding cost of physical labor. It could be due to a lack of education on nutrition or even irregular eating habits.
  • Baum ... worked on an unfunded project that suggested a correlation between cigarette taxes and obesity (when cigarette taxes go up, more people quit smoking, which tends to make them gain weight).
  • Baum and a colleague, Dr. William Ford, found that there is a “pound penalty” for obese people in the work force.... Over the first two decades of their careers, people who are obese make less money than their similarly qualified nonobese coworkers.
  • Baum is currently examining a group that should gain weight—expectant mothers. Low-income women typically do not gain enough weight, which often results in low birth-weight babies or babies with other health problems relating to malnourishment.